Armed federal agents raided Gibson Guitar’s Nashville headquarters in August, creating a national outcry over the high-profile persecution. But today, six months after the raid, the Department of Justice has yet to file any charges against the company.
Why did the government go after Gibson? A new video from Reason.tv explores the implications of the case, problems with the Lacey Act and how overcriminalization is threatening the American way of life.
At the time of the August raid, the second on the company since 2009, agents were working off a tip that Gibson broke laws in India and Madagascar, two countries that supply Gibson with ebony and other scarce woods for its guitars. At issue is the Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to import some tropical hardwoods in violation of foreign laws. As a result of both raids, federal agents seized more than $1 million of Gibson’s property.
Gibson’s supporters have rallied behind the company. Musicians ranging from blues legend B.B. King to rock stars with Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith have used its guitars. Gibson chairman and chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz has testified before Congress about the ordeal. He visited Heritage last year to speak out against what he called unfair persecution from his own government.
Even though both India and Madagascar say Gibson did nothing wrong, the company is facing an uncertain future as a result of the government’s actions. It is unclear when or if the Department of Justice will file charges.
Juszkiewicz, himself a conservationist devoted to preserving natural resources, said it is a classic case of Washington’s overreach.